Laptop computer screens that flip around to become tablet PCs could be an increasingly common sight near future. Convertibles, as they are called, are the newest and hottest – but not the only – offering in the increasingly diverse laptop market.A convertible is more than just a laptop with a swiveling screen. The screen also accepts input from a pen just like a PDA – Personal Digital Assistant – or dedicated tablet PC.Convertibles have given laptops a dual personality – use it normally or flip the screen around and snap it down on top of the keyboard to make a full-fledged table PC. Another cool feature: if you’re trying to show somebody what’s on the screen, you simply swivel it towards them – great for presentations. With all these cool features, why doesn’t everyone own a convertible? Price mostly – they can cost several hundred dollars more than a standard laptop. Experts predict this will change as more people buy them – economy of scale. On top of that, laptop prices have literally crashed in the last 5 years making them affordable replacements for desktops.Slate-style tablet laptops – the screen is fixed on top of the unit – are less popular, but widely praised by a select group of die hard scribblers. These units are akin to a PDA, only larger – the dimensions of a standard pad letter-sized of paper – and work in much the same manner. Table PCs have been around for about 15 years, but sales have always been just a few percent of the total laptop market. To type, you need an external keyboard. Most people prefer typing to writing and – even today – handwriting recognition software leaves something to be desired. Most require a new writing style or a “learning” process. Unlike underpowered PDAs, tablet PCs are full-fledged computers capable of running any Windows program. They also cost several hundred dollars less than convertibles and have been on the market longer. Lack of a swiveling screen makes them more robust and lighter, as well, according to proponents.Another segment in growth is that of the ruggedized laptops. They are attractive to anybody who’s ever dropped or banged an expensive laptop causing permanent damage. Ouch, and get out that wallet: just the screen alone could cost $1000 to replace. Explore further Full sized tablet PC – Motion Computing LE1600 8.5” x 11”, 3.13 lbs. Multi-mobile (M2) computing system makes Android, iOS apps sharable on multiple devices Terralogic Toughnote Series 3. It’s not your parent’s laptop: new models offer a wide range of different configurations for every need and taste. Citation: The New Laptops (2006, January 25) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2006-01-laptops.html Rugged models tend to run a couple pounds heavier than normal laptops, but you can leave that protective carrying case at home. They resist shocks, water and dust and offer all the features a normal user would need. In fact, they are practically indestructible: Depending on the make & model, think 30 minutes of heavy rain, 40,000 feet of altitude, 40G shocks, dust storms, saltwater mist, 70 degrees centigrade, 95% condensing humidity and enough vibration to shake a truck apart. They even have nuclear battlefield models for the military designed to withstand the EMP – ElectroMagnetic Pulse – created by nuclear explosions. This pulse destroys unprotected electronics. IBM ThinkPad X41 Tablet – a popular, light (3.5 lbs.) 12″ convertible. The SUV of notebooks is as heavy in the hands as on your pocketbook, however – models start around $3,000. Also, you should be prepared to accept last year’s technology at least – many still come standard with Pentium III processors and Windows 98SE.Manufacturing prices are dropping, however, and shipments of convertible, ruggedized and slate PCs may hit over 9 million units by 2008. That’s up 700 percent from the 1.2 million units expected to ship this year, according to a forecast by market researchers. Convertible notebooks are expected to make up the majority of those shipments. The projected number of convertibles and tablets is small compared with the overall number of notebooks – 62.5 million notebooks ship yearly, a number that is forecast by market analysts IDC to climb to 100.3 million in 2008. Microsoft, a major backer of tablets, is making the rounds with educators and developers to promote the benefits of tablet-based computing. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 is currently available with the purchase of a tablet-style PC. Users can also get free upgrades at the Microsoft’s web site. The next Tablet OS version is slated to be part of the upcoming Windows Vista Home Premium Edition. The Premium version, which is based on Vista Home Basic, is similar to the Windows XP Media Center Edition (XP MCE) but adds features designed for tablet PCs such as improved handwriting recognition and ability to use a tablet’s stylus to pan through documents.Only time will tell if these new laptops will flourish like wireless networking or fade away like floppy disks. But in an increasingly tight high-tech market were margins are low and profits are down, expect PC makers to pull out all the stops. They will introduce new and interesting additions to their offerings in a bid to rise above the competition. Who knows? Maybe one day we will all own a rugged, convertible notebook.Before tossing your desktop to get a sexy, new convertible, remember: you will have to make some sacrifices: Greater expense, shorter useful life – the technology tends to be several months behind the most advanced desktops, virtually no upgrade path apart from more memory and lower overall performance – especially when it comes to games.But, hey, everyone loves a convertible, right?By Philip Dunn, Copyright 2006 PhysOrg.com This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.